Ester is a therapist working in private practice and as clinical lead for a leading charity based in Portsmouth, which supports those who have experienced sexual and domestic abuse. 

Ester introduced domestic abuse in terms of relational trauma and invited the audience to reflect on what love is and the projections and assumptions we make with our clients. She discussed a definition of domestic abuse and presented the statistics of occurrence within the UK, suggesting that the more marginalised the client, the higher the prevalence. Ester talked us through the Domestic Abuse Act of 2021, the abuse cycle and the contradictory nature of trauma bonds, where the victim will love the perpetrator (they make me feel safe) but also fear them (I am unsafe) referring to black mirroring. 

Ester presented her model for working with survivors of domestic abuse, which she described as bottom to top healing. This included the 4 steps of stabilisation, processing, integration, and post traumatic growth, acknowledging that in short-term working, the stage of stabilisation, can sometimes be all that can be completed within the timeframe. Discussion took place around the challenges of transference and counter transference when working with domestic abuse survivors and the value of supervision, to keep the therapist grounded and boundaried. 

 This was an interesting and thought-provoking talk, which triggered me to reflect professionally and personally. The feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive. Ester was able to present a very difficult topic in a succinct and sensitive way. I am certain HACP will invite Ester to return and tell us more in the future. 

Julie May